Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School. Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School. Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School. Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School. Study primary text sources in the humanities discipline in the Shimer Great Books School.

Shimer Great Books School

Shimer Great Books School, Humanities

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The humanities awaken our senses to the world around us and give us a greater understanding of what it means to be human—teaching us to see the meaning, story and beauty behind all expressions of life and self.

Found at the intersections of philosophy, literature, theology, fine arts and aesthetics, the humanities major will teach you to think creatively and critically, and to analyze all aspects of the human experience. The humanities have been at the foundation of classical liberal arts education since the beginning and they connect us both to those who came before us and to our contemporaries.

About Shimer Great Books School

The Shimer Great Books School at North Central College provides and preserves education centered on discussion of enduring questions and issues. Here, you will immerse yourself in reading, writing and discussion alongside other voracious readers who use what they read to engage with the world and understand their roles in it.

Learning is a constant dialogue where every opinion and every position is questioned and analyzed. You’ll discuss your ideas in a class with people who will push you to think more deeply about fundamental questions than you ever have before. Simply put, the Shimer Great Books School challenges you to delve deeply into the diverse and endlessly fascinating areas of thought and creativity in the company of similarly inclined students and teachers.

Quote:

“You will probably never read anything the same way again and you will be better for it … You will learn more about yourself and your world than you would ever expect.”

-  Sophie, Shimer student

Learn more on the Shimer Great Books School blog

Humanities, B.A.

Through the Humanities major, students encounter some of the most awe-inspiring figures in intellectual and artistic history. Plato. Aristotle. Homer. Confucius. Shakespeare. Michelangelo. Picasso. Bach. Mozart. Saint Augustine. Maimonides. Descartes. Locke. Nietzsche. Hurston. Achebe. They represent just a sampling of the authors and artists whose work is grounded in complex intellectual and ethical issues that remain vital to the ways in which we understand ourselves, our communities and our potential contributions to a meaningful future. The disciplines of philosophy, literature, theology, fine arts and criticism and their intersections make up the Humanities.

For additional programs and courses in this school, see Shimer Great Books School.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 120 credit hours: 78 credit hours from the Shimer School Core and 42 credit hours of elective courses. Requirements for the B.A. degree, in addition to the major, include study of a foreign language.

Shimer School Core Curriculum

Basic Core Studies
  • SGB 111 - Fundamental Concepts of Art and Music

    SGB 111 - Fundamental Concepts of Art and Music

    3.00 credit hours

    An investigation of the elements and forms of the musical and visual arts, primarily dedicated to the tasks of active listening and viewing. No previous training in music or facility at drawing or painting is presumed.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 112 - Literature of the Ancient World

    SGB 112 - Literature of the Ancient World

    3.00 credit hours

    An introduction to imaginative literature, featuring poetry, epic, drama and fiction from ancient to medieval times and exploring a variety of approaches to narrative and the use of language to create an imagined reality. Selected works of literary criticism are also included.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 113 - Literature in the Modern World

    SGB 113 - Literature in the Modern World

    3.00 credit hours

    A continuation of the introduction to imaginative literature begun in SGB 112, drawing on, poetry, drama and novels from modern to contemporary times. (Designated Writing Course.)

    Prerequisite(s)


    Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 121 - Classical Foundations of Logic and Mathematics

    SGB 121 - Classical Foundations of Logic and Mathematics

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of the foundations of mathematics and logic from ancient Greece to early modern Europe. Students are presented with various methods and systems for reasoning logically, geometrically and arithmetically, and with fundamental questions concerning the bases of human thought and knowledge.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 122 - Modern Foundations of Logic and Mathematics

    SGB 122 - Modern Foundations of Logic and Mathematics

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of landmark works in mathematics and logic from early modern Europe to the contemporary world. Includes exploration of the power and limitations of logical and mathematical systems.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 121. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 131 - Premodern Science and the Chemical Revolution

    SGB 131 - Premodern Science and the Chemical Revolution

    3.00 credit hours

    Examination of historical answers to the question, "What is the world made of?" from the ancient Greek philosophers through the birth of modern chemistry. The focus is on several key concepts, such as weight, structure and complexity in an attempt to understand the material basis of the world.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 132 - Evolution, Classification and Animal Behavior

    SGB 132 - Evolution, Classification and Animal Behavior

    3.00 credit hours

    Exploration of theories of phylogeny and the development of organic diversity. The concept of evolution provides groundwork for this inquiry into biological organization. The relationships between evolution, the environment and animal behavior are foci for investigation and discussion.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 133 - Classical Physics, Motion and Light

    SGB 133 - Classical Physics, Motion and Light

    3.00 credit hours

    Exploration of classical physics: continuous mechanics and the nature of light, featuring the development of the theories of falling bodies, gravitation and optical phenomena. The investigation of physical theories includes exploration of the nature of scientific explanation.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 122, SGB 131 and completion of the Mathematics Competency Exam. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 141 - Society, Culture and Personality

    SGB 141 - Society, Culture and Personality

    3.00 credit hours

    Introduction to major disciplines within the social sciences—anthropology, psychology and sociology—through the study of influential original texts in those fields. The focus is on the nature of individual persons and the interrelationship and interaction between those individuals and their cultural and social world.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 142 - The Western Political Tradition

    SGB 142 - The Western Political Tradition

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of the development of the Western political tradition through the study of influential original texts in Western political thought. Course readings address the meanings of many of the most significant terms in political discourse, including freedom, liberty, equality, power and responsibility.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 143 - Political Development of the United States

    SGB 143 - Political Development of the United States

    3.00 credit hours

    Examination of the historical development of political thought in the United States, providing a framework for understanding how it has evolved and informed subsequent events. Readings convey various perspectives on the development of the country from the period of its founding through selected major events from the twentieth century.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 142. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

Mathematics Competency Examination
Basic Studies Comprehensive Examination
Advanced Area Core Studies
  • SGB 211 - Religious Reasoning

    SGB 211 - Religious Reasoning

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of the intellectual heritage of several of the world's great religions. Drawing on a range of scriptural, interpretive, argumentative and autobiographical works, this course introduces students to debates both within and across major religious traditions.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Two of SGB 111, SGB 112 or SGB 113. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 212 - Philosophical Reasoning

    SGB 212 - Philosophical Reasoning

    3.00 credit hours

    Introduces students to a variety of traditions of systematic reasoned argument. Drawing on texts from antiquity through modernity, this course provides a sampling of major philosophical approaches and styles.

    Prerequisite(s)


    Two of SGB 111, SGB 112 or SGB 113. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 213 - Critical Assessment in the Humanities

    SGB 213 - Critical Assessment in the Humanities

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of the wide array of critical and reflective approaches on the disciplines studied in previous courses in the Humanities sequence (fine arts, literature, religious reasoning,, philosophy), as well as a range of explicitly experimental works.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 111; SGB 112; SGB 113; SGB 211 or SGB 212. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 231 - Atoms and Electricity

    SGB 231 - Atoms and Electricity

    3.00 credit hours

    Exploration of the interface between chemistry and physics that arose in the 19th century from atomic theory and electromagnetism. Both discussion and laboratory work are required.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 131 and SGB 133. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 232 - Twentieth Century Revolutions in Physics

    SGB 232 - Twentieth Century Revolutions in Physics

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of the dramatic developments since the end of the nineteenth century when physics moved from a macroscopic to a microscopic focus. Focus is on understanding the microscopic and statistical aspects of the workings of the world, and then relating that understanding to our own experiences of that world.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 132, SGB 133 and SGB 231. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 233 - Modern Biology and Genetics

    SGB 233 - Modern Biology and Genetics

    3.00 credit hours

    Developments in biology since the end of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. Consideration is given to the level of genetic units within the organism, the level of species and the environmental level.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 232. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 241 - Modern Theories of Society, Politics and Economics

    SGB 241 - Modern Theories of Society, Politics and Economics

    3.00 credit hours

    An examination of works from the early 19th through the mid-20th century that examine and critique the Western political tradition while offering various ways of comprehending the social, psychological, economic and political structure of the modern world.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 141, SGB 142 and SGB 143. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 242 - Social Construction and Social Reality

    SGB 242 - Social Construction and Social Reality

    3.00 credit hours

    An examination of 20th-century theories about politics and society. Examination of whether an actual social reality can be posited, or whether, and to what extent that which we call "social, reality" is the product of constructed understandings of the social world that reflect jointly-shared assumptions.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 241. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 243 - Method and Critique in the Social Sciences

    SGB 243 - Method and Critique in the Social Sciences

    3.00 credit hours

    A study of conceptual frameworks and methodologies used in the social sciences and examines how they have been applied in modern social and political life, with special attention given to the integration of theory and practice.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 241. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

Area Studies Comprehensive Examination
Advanced Integrative Core Studies
  • SGB 451 - Ancient Mesopotamia to Classical Athens

    SGB 451 - Ancient Mesopotamia to Classical Athens

    3.00 credit hours

    A presentation of major landmarks of thought and expression from Sumerian Mesopotamia to the Classical period in Greece. This course explores many themes across a variety of genres, including epic and lyric poetry, dramas, histories, scientific works and philosophical dialogues and treatises.

    Prerequisite(s)


    At least 45 credit hours in SGB and completion of the Basic Studies Comprehensive Examination. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 452 - Classical Rome to Middle Ages

    SGB 452 - Classical Rome to Middle Ages

    3.00 credit hours

    Continued exploration of the multiple and interwoven themes and topics introduced in SGB 451. It starts with works created roughly from the rise of the Roman Empire and ends with the late medieval period.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 451. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 453 - Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment

    SGB 453 - Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment

    3.00 credit hours

    Continued exploration of themes and topics from SGB 452, beginning with the late medieval period and closing toward the end of the Enlightenment era in Europe.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 452. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 454 - Romanticism to the World Today

    SGB 454 - Romanticism to the World Today

    3.00 credit hours

    Conclusion of the Integrative Studies sequence, opening with the transition from the Enlightenment to Romanticism in Europe and continuing to the present day.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 453. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

Senior Thesis
  • SGB 494 - Thesis Preparation

    SGB 494 - Thesis Preparation

    3.00 credit hours

    This course helps students to get started on their senior thesis. It consists of a number of writing workshops, culminating in the completion of a substantial portion of a thesis draft.

    Prerequisite(s)


    One of SGB 451, SGB 452, SGB 453 or SGB 454. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

  • SGB 496 - Thesis

    SGB 496 - Thesis

    3.00 credit hours

    A sequel to Thesis Preparation, intended for thesis completion. Working independently in consultation with their thesis advisors, students complete a full and polished senior thesis.

    Prerequisite(s)


    SGB 494. Open to students in the Shimer Great Books School.

    Schedule Of Classes

Humanities Major

Of the 42 credit hours of electives, at least 30 must be in the area of Humanities.

Daniela Barberis

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5485
Ann Dolinko
Ann Dolinko

Visiting Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5483
James Donovan, PhD

Visiting Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
Aron Dunlap

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
Adam Kotsko

Visiting Assistant Professor in the Shimer School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5486
Stuart Patterson

Visiting Associate Professor in the Shimer Great Books School; Chairperson, Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books
+1 630 637 5487
Harold Stone
Harold Stone

Visiting Professor in the Shimer Great Books School
Shimer Great Books

The Shimer Great Books School at North Central College provides the tools, contexts, and habits of mind that make lifelong learning possible.  At the same time you will have immediate avenues to complement your studies with experiences that will prepare you for a host of professional opportunities designed to match your long-term interests, among them undergraduate research, co-curricular initiatives and internships.

Internships

North Central’s internship program helps you apply what you’ve learned in the classroom in a workplace setting. Our location provides you with access to both a world-class city and a booming local high-tech corridor. From Fortune 500 companies to dynamic start-ups on the cutting edge, there’s bound to be a workplace well suited to your graduate school interests and career goals.

Careers
A Shimer School of Great Books education teaches students the critical thinking necessary to handle extraordinary intellectual challenges. Shimer graduates have had successful careers in a wide range of professions, including:

  • Educators
  • Attorneys
  • Physicians
  • Wall Street analysts
  • Financial advisors
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Designers
  • Engineers
  • Artists
  • Writers
  • Marketers
  • And more.

Post-graduate
Shimer also ranks among the top colleges and universities in the percentage of graduates who earn PhDs.

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